A phone interview is often the only means by which you'll get that in-person interview. But don't be lulled into thinking it will be easier than an in-person interview. Here are some tips for doing it right.
Note: These tips are based on an entry in our Career Management blog.
1: Set the stage for the interview
If you know when the call is coming, make sure your environment is devoid of any distractions, like barking dogs or crying babies. It may be my imagination, but it seems like picking up a telephone always seemed to trigger some interruption mechanism in my dogs and my son. Even my cat, though quiet, would climb up to loll on my resume or bat my pen around as I tried to write. I always had to make my surrounding virtually soundproof and tamperproof before a phone interview or a meeting.
Some people think that since an interviewer can't see them, it doesn't matter how they're dressed. And it may not. But some people get a psychological boost from being dressed professionally or at least by kicking off the bunny slippers. Of course, many people think they communicate better when they feel casual. If you're one of those people, then proceed accordingly.
2: Have the right tools handy
Have your resume in front of you, as well as a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it's easy to forget things you wanted to ask.
3: Check your demeanor
It's natural to be nervous, but try to slow down when you speak so that what you have to say is understandable. Also, you won't have the benefit of body language cues to help interpret your meaning, so try not to make jokes. They can be easily misconstrued.
4: Remain calm and patient during silences
Remember that the interviewer will pause now and then to take notes on what you're saying, so long silences should be expected. Don't nervously try to fill the void with small talk or jabber.
5: Consult a cheat sheet
TechRepublic offers a free phone interview cheat sheet. It's geared toward IT managers who are conducting the interview, but it's also useful for seeing what kinds of questions might be asked of you. As with an in-person interview, preparation can greatly improve the impression you make.
Check out Five Tips... the newsletter
Get a concise roundup of solutions and techniques that will make your IT job go more smoothly. TechRepublic's Five Tips newsletter, delivered every Tuesday, gives you instant access to the information you need. Automatically sign up today.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.